Monday, April 11, 2016
The Elusive Me
Where is the “I” that I think that I am?
When I contemplate this question I seem to be something that exists apart from my body that is looking out through my eyes from somewhere in the front of my brain. Or, perhaps I may sense that I am located at the top of my heart on the left side of my chest.
In analyzing this sensation there is the prevailing illusion that I am the chauffeur to my body.
Indeed, I speak of “having a body,” “having a mind,” or I feel pain in “my” arm or leg, as if I own them as an extension of myself. But even more strange than this experience is the awareness somewhere deep inside me of the nagging suspicion that I am not my physical self, and the even greater sense of longing to find out what is missing from me that prevents me from being the complete and self- fulfilled being that I somehow know that I “should be.”
There is a mysterious re-collection of wholeness that haunts my consciousness. I believe that I don’t have it, but I am also strangely aware that whatever it is, I will recognize it as something very familiar when I experience it for the first time!
This drive to wholeness, this search for a greater Self (big “S”) can obsess us and often seems to find relief through efforts of escape or pre-occupation with religions, or various pastimes that either distract us from the suffering, or consume us momentarily – so we “forget”our selves (small “s”)
All suffering of this type is a symptom of the drive to end the sense of separation from the “Omnipresent- Absolute Consciousness” that the Hindus call Brahman, the Buddhists call Nirvana, and the Christians, Jews and Muslims call “God.” But this separation is an illusion. For the wholeness that is everything can never be less than complete.
Our separation is a false conclusion that we draw from our egotistical mind that seeks to preserve itself as a separate entity. The ego is an elaborate “mechanism” that enables consciousness to experience itself – we mistakenly believe through lessons learned by habit and social conditioning that we are a separate instance of consciousness, rather than the mere observation of a part of the fulness of it. We “exist” as a wave on the ocean of consciousness – momentarily appearing as unique, then non-existent again.
The first time you become aware that your relationship with reality is a mental construct, and that the idea of separate existence is a product of memory, you feel lost.
When I experienced this a long time ago I sought an explanation in the knowledge of the past. I believed that I’d had a “religious experience.” As a teenager I remember thinking, based on what I thought I knew, that I was seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes!
So my course of action was to pursue the trail of various religious teachings. I thought that in one of them I would find the source of my experience. This was probably a reasonable course of action - but unfortunately it proved to be merely a method of escape; an avoidance of truth, rather than a means of realization of it.
Religion is an escape from reality - for the essence of life is already fully revealed in the very moments of our awareness. The path to God realization, salvation, liberation, or whatever we want to call “it,” the goal of our seeking, is fully present here, now. It cannot be anywhere else.
All creeds, precepts, principles, practices, disciplines, and beliefs are merely tools of comfort, that we cling to in an attempt to hold onto the concept of a permanent, individual self. Even discussing the idea that creeds are empty is to battle with the consciousness that tries to make a creed out of NOT having a creed, or system of belief. The very idea of letting go of a concept becomes a concept in the “hands” of our ego-clinging mind!
Some might say that I’m describing the experience of Non-duality, or Advaita. But, this very act of classifying what I’m saying illustrates once again how difficult it is for the mind to exist outside of its own experience of memory. Our illusory self clings to definitions so that it can maintain its identity. If the mind can be still for just a moment, it is possible to experience the full-on wonder that is pure awareness.
If the mind can be still for just a moment......
That is the very essence of liberation. Being fully present in this very elusive moment. When it happens there is awareness of the fulness of eternity; the realization of the connectedness of all things. The self disappears into everything else and life is complete in each moment.
It is almost futile to try to achieve this state of choice-less, or thought-less awareness, for it cannot be achieved by effort; only by acceptance as what is actually already happening.
There is no path to this - but there is meditation that helps the mind become quiet, and in this quietness is the opportunity for stillness of thought that welcomes reality on its own terms.
I wrote this as an attempt to describe the indescribable - because the beauty of liberation to reality is worth the sacrifice of life itself. There is no beauty more wonderful than being fully open to this life as it is - unfiltered, unrestrained, and undefined.
It is a gift that is free - and the best news of all is that you already have it, if you can risk letting go of all effort to obtain it.
Welcome to the vanishing of the self - the life beyond the death of the ego.